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Julian McDaniel

MA Student



Before introducing my research, it is important to acknowledge my own positionality. I am a settler researcher conducting research on stolen land. What is now referred to as Morristown once belonged to bands now known as the Sioux, Cherokee, or Iroquois. I am also conducting work in land that is now known as Knoxville, Tennessee. This land once belonged to the Tsalagi peoples (Eastern Band Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma), Tsoyahá peoples (Yuchi, Muscogee (Creek) Nation) and the Shawnee peoples (Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the Shawnee Tribe). I am privileged and grateful that I am able to conduct research on stolen land. Respect of the land and its owners takes priority in this research project.



Julian is currently preparing to conduct his thesis research project, which will take place in the city of Morristown, Tennessee. Morristown is home to some of the oldest industrial parks in the country and these factories employ many residents of the city. Several complaints have been made by citizens of Morristown, but also laborers who have worked in some of the factories – primarily the Koch chicken plants. This research project is guided by one primary question: how has the COVID-19 pandemic and major switches in employment practices impacted the nature of work in poultry production, processing and factory work more broadly?

Several other questions will also be addressed in this research: how have racialized workers navigated these changes in employment practices and how has racialization operated inside production facilities? How have the lives of racialized workers been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in employment practices outside of the workplace?

In order to carry out this research, Julian plans to tour the two Koch chicken factories in order to get an idea of what the operations look like and how workers have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also plans to conduct semi-structured interviews with workers (current and former) about their experiences, as oral histories of the town all suggest that the conditions are precarious. I also plan to analyze many books, articles, and even films in order to understand what the material conditions are like in Morristown. The goal of this project is to highlight the material conditions of workers in chicken factories and the ways in which workers have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues such as education, healthcare, safety, unrest, etc., may arise and will be documented. As the sole researcher of this project, and given the fact that many workers exist in precarious conditions, I stand in full solidarity with the factory workers who are working dangerous jobs to provide the country with necessities like chicken. As an academic in training, my hope is that this project helps humanize industrial workers and highlights the difficulties they face on a day-to-day basis.


Curriculum Vitae



Labor, work, COVID-19, Appalachia, industry, production, political economy, migration, power



Contact Information

  • Chair: Dr. Raja Swamy